December 11, 2016

Article at Authory

Pope Francis and the Well-Dressed Priests

In his latest challenge to the sensitivities of the More Orthodox Than Thou, Pope Francis recently told a story related to him by an elderly monsignor who went out to buy himself a couple of clerical shirts.

The monsignor witnessed a young priest, probably in his twenties, admiring himself in a mirror after putting on a saturno (for the uninitiated, that's a fancy clerical hat). The Holy Father used this story to illustrate his observation on the "rigidity" of priests who are engrossed in the trappings of their office.

I was reminded of a story I read a long time ago by an Orthodox Jewish woman who was shopping in a store selling Judaica items. She witnessed an Orthodox Jewish teenager admiring himself in a mirror in his new velvet kippah (for the uninitiated, that's a Hebrew word for a yarmulke). This fully observant Jewish woman, who recognized the value of Jewish men wearing kippot, nonetheless found the young man's vanity to be noteworthy. She obviously looked on him with affection and indulgence because he was so young, but she still seemed to find his self-regard a bit much.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, is commenting on adult men, educated past college for at least four years (sometimes more) in theology and philosophy, and who have dedicated their lives to representing Someone who had one cloak and nowhere to lay his head. Francis remarked that perhaps concern with the trappings of their office, and self-regard for how they look while sporting clerical gear, is inappropriate for Christian priests.

In response, multiple priests on social media have been posting selfies of themselves decked out in saturnos, cassocks, and copes, and bragging about their "rigidity." In other words, proving Pope Francis's point. And, of the ones I've seen so far, not one of them has youth as an excuse.

(Image: White shoes with papal coat of arms, Pixabay.)